Top Texas Criminal Court OKs Use of Defendant's MySpace Pages to Convict Him in Slaying
Despite an absence of forensic evidence, Ronnie Tienda Jr. was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison in the slaying of a 23-year-old man in a 2007 Dallas freeway shootout.
The guns that were fired in the incident were never recovered, nor was there a bullet match. However, Tienda, who was present at the crime scene, according to evidence presented at his Dallas County trial, was convicted after the judge allowed in evidence of postings on Tienda’s MySpace account.
Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Tienda’s conviction concerning the death of David Valadez, finding that the trial judge committed no error in allowing the social networking material as evidence, the Associated Press reports.
“Computers can be hacked, protected passwords can be compromised, and cellphones can be purloined,” the court pointed out in its written opinion.
However, it found that sufficient facts and details were included in the MySpace material used as evidence to prove that Tienda was the author.
Saying that an email address, ZIP code, nickname, tattoos, photos and a link to a song from the funeral for Valadez were all consistent with Tienda’s authorship, the court held that “this is ample circumstantial evidence—taken as a whole with all of the individual, particular details considered in combination” to support the admission of MySpace pages in evidence.